by Olivia Sidoti (Steinhardt '19)
The summer before I started high school, I thought I would be a volleyball player (Volleyball-er? Volleyball athlete?) I couldn’t tell you why I thought that. Honestly, I’ve always been the smallest of all my friends and I’m not particularly athletic either. I think what it came down to was the fact that all my more athletically skilled friends had chosen to do a fall sport and I had no interest in sitting alone every day after school. So goddamnit I was going to bump, set, whatever the hell out of those balls. Fortunately for me, I was the only person cut from volleyball. I was left with two options for sports to join after that: track and crew. The two sports that didn’t have tryouts because they didn’t make cuts. I hate running so I made the best decision of my life and chose crew.
Milton High School’s crew team was in its first fall season ever. We had about fourteen people on the team and owned three old, yellow Dirigos. It’s funny, most people on the team joined due to similar misfortunes. There were many of the scrawny nerd type who wanted to be fit but had zero athletic ability. There were the children whose parents—so sick of seeing them lazing around the house with no purpose—forced them to sign up. My personal favorite story came from a rower who would eventually be my captain. He said, “I didn’t think it would be this involved.” He told me he needed twenty dollars from his mother. She agreed to the charity on the condition he join the crew team.
And, boy, was the sport involved. For the next four years, I spent seven days a week and anywhere between four and twelve hours a day with these people. I loved every minute. The team grew. We went through an outlandish amount of coaches; from a Serbian national rower to a navy seal to a Canadian Spanish teacher. We grew. We went from dead last to holding our own to actually winning. We became so incredibly devoted to each other. I made some of the best friends on the team. My boyfriend was the stroke seat of my eight last year—a fact which the other rowers (and coaches!) teased greatly. I used to go to all the school’s jazz concerts simply because my rowers were performing in it. The boys in my boat were wild and knew just how to aggravate me. They’ve also been kinder to me than any of my other friends when I really needed it. Thats how family works, right? They were my family and they were a great one. I could write pages about my love for all the boys and girls I’ve had the pleasure to have in my boat, but I won’t. Because this is the part where I leave the nest. This is where NYU comes in.
Crew has been my life for the last four years. It wasn’t even a thought to whether I would join this crew team or not. The first couple practices left me feeling sad. I wanted what I left. But by the end of the first week I noticed something familiar about the team that I don’t think I would have found at just any other school. A freshman again, joining, I am at the start. I learn more about the people who come in and out of my boat. I’m beginning to love each breakfast and party and van ride. Any kind of outing with them makes me more and more excited for what I am being given. NYU Crew is giving me a new family. I am going to get to grow again, with them. We are going to grow.
I am in love with the sport. But crew is more than just rowing. Crew is everything else. Crew is the people and the time and the experiences rowing gives. I am so thankful for all it has given me and tenfolds more so for what it will.